The outcome of Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Astros may decide the fate of Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell.
The Boston Red Sox have their backs against the walls, trailing two games to none in the ALDS. The series shifts home to Fenway Park with the team desperate for a win to avoid staying home until spring. While some may find comfort in the notion of “there’s always next year,” that’s not always true for everyone. Lose the next game and there may not be another chance next year.
The must-win scenario hangs over the head of manager John Farrell more than anyone. If the Red Sox lose their next game, Farrell is in serious jeopardy of losing his job.
You wonder if the front office has any regrets about letting Torey Lovullo leave, especially after seeing him lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to the postseason in his first year at the helm. The Red Sox won’t want to miss out on the next great managerial candidate to become available.
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That could be Alex Cora, who is widely believed in baseball circles to be the next to jump to managing a big league team without any minor league experience. Other teams are likely to move on from their current managers and if Boston sees one that could benefit from a change in scenery then they may make a move. The San Francisco Giants probably won’t fire Bruce Bochy after a last place finish but he’s an example of the type the Red Sox should pounce on if he were to become available.
While firing a manager of a team that made it to the postseason may seem rash, it’s hardly unprecedented for a Red Sox organization with sky-high expectations. Grady Little was shown the door after leading the team to the ALCS, in large part due to one poor decision to leave his starter in the game too long. Farrell seems to make the same mistake about once per week. Terry Francona won two World Series titles in Boston but was let go after a September collapse resulted in the Red Sox missing out on the postseason by one game. The team limped to the finish line in each of the last two seasons under Farrell, blowing home-field advantage last year and waiting until the second-to-last day to clinch the division title this season.
Farrell has had his fair share of success here as well, winning the World Series in his first season managing the Red Sox. He led the team to consecutive AL East division titles for the first time in franchise history and is the only manager to win three division crowns with the Red Sox.
Yet he is on thin ice heading into Game 3 as the Red Sox look to avoid being swept out of the first-round of the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Boston has been outscored 16-4 through the first two games of the ALDS. The starting pitchers were unprepared and the lineup showed few signs of life. At least when Boston was swept by the Cleveland Indians last year they kept the games interesting, losing two of those games by only one run. This year the Red Sox look ready to roll over after a pair of blowouts in Houston.
While a portion of the blame must fall on the players, it’s the manager’s job to ensure his players are prepared and motivated. This team has shown no signs of either. Boston doesn’t necessarily need to win this series in order for Farrell to keep his job. The Astros are clearly the better team and were rightfully favored entering the series. Even if they don’t win, Boston still needs to put up a fight. Farrell can’t afford for his team to be swept again.